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Republic

Republic

The term republic derives from the Latin phrase res publica ("matter" or "thing of the people"). Most generally, the word refers to any political regime in which no king or hereditary dynasty rules over subjects in a state of submission or servility. A republic is thus populated by "citizens" who enjoy some manner of political and legal rights to govern themselves through collective political mechanisms and processes. Because citizens are self-governing, liberty is associated with and regarded as emerging from republican regimes. Yet republicanism must also be distinguished from democracy: the idea of a republic entails the imposition of fixed and strict limits on the power of the people. Consequently, a republic involves a constitutional system that provides checks and balances or a mixture of authorizing agents. Stated simply, the liberty of the citizens must be weighed against the maintenance of a common public good that is best identified by leaders who are insulated from the unchecked passions of the people.

Historically, the language of republicanism has been recognized as one of the central modes of political discourse in the European and modern Atlantic worlds. The title of a synoptic collection of essays from 2002 labels republicanism a "shared European heritage," and many scholars treat it as a European bequest to the New World. Certainly, republicanism seems to be a distinctively Western construction, although a plausible case may be constructed that the pre-kingship system of Judaic government depicted in the Old Testament constituted an embryonic system of "federated republic." (Indeed, many later thinkers viewed the Israelite polity as an inspiration for their own vision of a self-governing constitution.)

Perhaps the most hotly debated issue in current scholarship is the relationship between the ancient or classical, the medieval, and the modern strains of republican thought. Some have traced the diffusion of classical republicanism from the Renaissance through to the founding of the American republic, arguing for an essential continuity, a "Machiavellian moment," in the phrase of John Pocock. Others have sternly criticized the view that a uniform revival of classical republicanism may be attributed to the modern world, contending instead that "classical" republicanism must be distinguished from a "modern" variant and that, despite superficial resemblances, different thinkers may be sorted into one or the other category. Paul Rahe represents the outstanding proponent of this view. Still others posit a continuous and developing tradition of republican thought that commenced in the Roman era and persisted (in necessarily transformed fashion) through the Latin Middle Ages into the modern world.

Roman Republicanism

Republicanism in practice predated any attempt to define or articulate it conceptually. Rome became a self-proclaimed republic at the end of the sixth century b.c.e. as a result of a revolt against the Tarquin dynasty of kings who had ruled the region. Thereafter, the Latin word for king, rex, was anathema to Romans (even after the rise of the Caesars, who styled themselves princeps, "first man," instead.). The basic constitution of the Roman Republic evolved slowly over the course of the succeeding four centuries, always shaped by a practice of diffusing power among a range of institutions: administrative officers, a body of noblemen (the senate), and various popular citizen assemblies. In the beginning, the concentration of authority rested with the senate and the executive magistrates (chief among whom were the two consuls). Over the course of the republic's history, however, the lesser citizens demanded and received greater power via the addition of further magistracies and assemblies.

It is perhaps not too great an exaggeration to say that Marcus Tullius Cicero (10643 b.c.e.) was the most influential republican thinker of the ancient world. Although many other classical authors contributed significantly to the understanding of the theory and practice of the republicPolybius (c.200118 b.c.e.), Sallust (8635 or 34 b.c.e.), and Livy (59 b.c.e.17 c.e.) were among the most importantCicero produced the largest body of writings about the topic. Moreover, he enjoyed the widest audience and most loyal following of any republican author, both in ancient times and later. Drawing on Hellenic and Hellenistic philosophies, as well as on his knowledge of Roman history and his personal experiences with the practical requirements of republican rule, Cicero in many ways represented the pinnacle of republican theory as well as statesmanship. Reflecting the inherent tension within republicanism between populism and elitism, his teachings endorse two distinguishable and potentially competing theoretical defenses of republican government: one highlighting eloquent speech, the other focusing on the faculty of reason.

Populism and public discourse.

In Cicero's writings on rhetoric and oratory, a premium is placed on public discourseamong both citizens and statesmenas the basis for the republican regime. In writings such as De inventione and De oratore, Cicero maintains that the eloquent expression of the common welfare binds the republic together. On the one hand, the leaders of the commonwealth are charged with acquiring the oratorical skills necessary to persuade citizens to accept the laws and policies conducive to the well-being of public affairs. On the other hand, all human beings, regardless of their station, are deemed competent (on the basis of their natural faculties) to discern and judge the pronouncements of orators in public assemblies and proceedings.

Cicero grounds this discursive approach to republican rule on the claim that human nature can only be fully realized through articulate and intelligent speech. While his rhetorical writings do not deny the importance of rationality, they are explicitly critical of the philosophical tradition, which glorifies reason to the exclusion or detriment of language. Rather, human beings are both rational and linguistic creatures, simultaneously capable of reasoning and speaking. Speech is, however, accorded primacy in this formulation of human nature. It is not enough to possess reason, for rational powers require the faculty of language in order that their discoveries may be disseminated.

Cicero believes that the realization of the associative potentialities present within human speech may only be achieved with the aid of oratory. The orator discovers what is truly good for his fellow creatures and communicates it to them in the most forceful and convincing manner so that they may put it to use. The combination of eloquence and wisdom characteristic of the orator assures that he will speak on behalf of the interests of the entire community. Cicero invokes a direct contrast between oratory and philosophy. The philosopher may know the good but lack the skill or training to convey it to the multitude. Inherent in the subject matter of oratory, then, is a regard for fellow citizens, which imposes on the orator an overarching duty to act in the service of public welfare. The orator can only achieve this goal, in turn, by expressing himself in the popular idiom. Oratory is concerned in some measure with the common usage, custom, and speech of humankind, so that, whereas in all other arts that which is most excellent is farthest removed from the understanding and mental capacity of the untutored, in oratory the very cardinal sin is to depart from the language of everyday life and the usage approved by the sense of the community.

Cicero's account of the discursive foundations of public life ties the role of political leadership to a clear notion of citizenship and civic intercourse. The man of public affairs is called on to persuade his fellow citizens to follow the wisest course of action in order to achieve the common good. Eloquent speech must, therefore, be cultivated alongside wisdom as a prized asset for political life; the statesman requires these qualities in order to appeal to and convince an audience. Likewise, even though ordinary citizens may lack the talent and skill of the orator, they are deemed to be competent to judge between competing arguments within the public arena and to choose in accordance with the best and most persuasive (that is, the wisest) case that they hear. Thus, citizenship ought to be construed in an active sense: statesmen seek the approval of citizens, who, by virtue of their inherently rational and linguistic faculties, are all qualified to discern the public good. Public life is a kind of recapitulation of the initial entry of human beings into the social and political order. Hence, this discursive approach has overtly participatory implications; it encourages political actors to conceive of their roles in terms of open rational persuasion and debate leading toward the civic recognition of the public good.

Elites and natural reason.

Cicero bolsters this view with an account of the foundations of republican government that emphasizes the centrality of reason alone as the source of public welfare, and concomitantly diminishes the active and discursive dimensions of citizenship. In this version of republicanism, natural reason forms the cornerstone of human social relations. The role of reason is to discover those precepts of natural law that maintain and strengthen the bonds of communal order, and to impose such dictates through law and rulership in a manner consonant with the public good. Of course, Cicero acknowledges that reason is unevenly distributed among human beings. While all people may be minimally rational, some exceed their fellows in the exercise of reason, a fact that qualifies the wise to ascend to positions of authority within the civic body. Indeed, in a well-ordered regime, those lacking fully developed powers of reason ought freely to accede to governance by their betters, on the grounds that wise rule is the strongest safeguard of the common good. The rational powers of statesmen guide the republic for the benefit of citizens, and the people are best governed when they defer to magistrates of superior wisdom. Cicero's philosophical writings, in particular, tend to highlight the Stoic-derived view that human beings are inherently rational creatures and that their natural powers of reason constitute the precondition for all social intercourse and political community.

Cicero maintains that society, and hence people's very capacity to conceive of a public welfare, depends on the cultivation of virtue. Virtue is directly dependent, in turn, on the cultivation of the rational faculties. Hence, the mark of a harmonious communal setting is the presence of virtue as an ingrained feature of its organization. Cicero singles out and concentrates on justice, identifying it as the virtue most crucial to the perpetuation of human association. The Ciceronian conception of justice is rooted in the doctrine of natural law. Cicero holds that nature imposes on individuals a certain code or measure of conduct, constituted in particular by the requirement to promote the ends and interests of human society. In order to prevent perpetual endangerment to the bonds of society, the law of nature is afforded prescriptive force. To know what accords with the law of nature, and hence what behavior is required by justice, one reasons about the common good. One's duty on the basis of natural law is always to act in the general welfare when there exists a conflict between private benefit and the general interests of society. The Ciceronian doctrine of natural law codifies and authorizes the obligation stemming from justice to value social fellowship above all else.

Cicero believes that all human beings share in the faculty of reason, and therefore are equal in their capacity to grasp what is just and lawful. But it is obvious that all people are not equally rational, and therefore virtuous and law-abiding. Whatever equality human beings enjoy by birth is in effect eradicated by differences of circumstance, so that wisdom is ultimately achieved by a very few persons, and the multitude remain in a state of ignorance. The distinction between the wise and the foolish has important implications for the foundations of the republic. Since civil law, properly speaking, has a rational origin in "what is true and just," according to Cicero, only those statutes that are framed and approved by the wise should be counted as valid. Valid legislation, therefore, must be referred to reason in accordance with nature and justice. No enactment of the multitude, regardless of how overwhelming the popular support, deserves to be accorded respect and obedience unless it is consonant with natural law. And only the wise are qualified to make this determination.

Cicero therefore turns to the optimates (best men), in whose hands the security of government must reside. The well-ordered republic of Cicero's De re publica the constitution most in conformity with natureis the creation of individuals who apply wisdom to the art of politics. In turn, the ideal constitution is balanced and harmonious when the optimates (embodied by the senate of the republic) enjoy the influence appropriate to their superior learning. De re publica commends that stage in the growth of the republican system when "supreme authority was in the senate with the sufferance and obedience of the people"; and Cicero bemoans the popular grasping after power (in the name of liberty) that leads to the decline in the concord afforded by the republic.

Hence, the rational conception of the republic promotes a passive conception of citizenship as well as an exalted idea of statesmanship. While all human beings are deemed minimally rational, Cicero regards the powers of reason of most of them to be insufficient for sharing directly in the judgment of the common good. Rather, it is up to the statesman, with his wisdom and superior virtue, to serve the public welfare by pioneering and preserving just institutions. Given the distinction between the ignorance of the multitude and the wisdom of the virtuous few, a direct appeal by a statesman to the masses would almost certainly be an act of demagoguery or tyranny, an attempt to destabilize the order of the republic. There is a noticeable contrast between this idea of the rational statesman, who governs on behalf, not at the behest, of citizens, and the oratorical model, in which the statesman can only lead the citizen body by the force of his eloquence and must accede to the popular will.

Medieval Republicanism

The tension between the populist and elitist dimensions in republican thought is recapitulated in later important contributions to republicanism. Italy, in particular, produced a number of exponents of republican doctrines, such as Brunetto Latini (1220c. 1294) and Ptolemy of Lucca (c. 12361327). Perhaps the most famous medieval republican work was the Defensor pacis (1324), written by Marsilius of Padua (c. 1280c. 1343). Marsilius stresses the linguistic foundations of the community, following Cicero's account of the formation of the human community as a consensual process in which the multitude is convinced to join into bonds of social and political cooperation by the "persuasion and exhortation" of oratorically gifted individuals. In turn, Marsilius ascribes to discourse a continuing role in the conduct of public affairs, as a sort of repetition of the original foundation of the community. The framing of legislation, for example, he regards as a function of public speech. He stipulates that draft statutes are to be framed by prudent persons (prudentes ) who, by virtue of their leisure and superior experience, are best qualified to discover just and useful laws. Yet the wisdom of the few does not entitle them to enact legislation on behalf of the general mass of citizens. Rather, the whole body of citizens (which Marsilius terms the legislator humanus ) must consent to draft statutes in order to give them the status of laws that the community is obligated to obey.

The Defensor pacis ascribes to oratory two pivotal functions in the process of a "bill becoming a law." First, it is assigned to the prudentes, when they present their legislative proposals to the citizen body, to "explain" publicly the measures they have recommended; and their fellow citizens are likewise bound to "listen attentively" to the arguments given. The prudentes in effect play the role created by the primordial orator: they must attempt to persuade the assembly of citizens that the draft statutes are consistent with justice and contribute to the common good, while it is left to the multitude, whose powers of reason are less well developed, to reflect on the justifications presented to them and to approve (or withhold approval from) laws. Second, Marsilius views the occurrence of legislative authorization as an occasion for general public discussion and debate among the members of the civic body. The whole citizen population must have an opportunity to speak about the matters of communal concern placed before it, and the words of the populace are ultimately binding. Lest "partiality" creep into the legislative process, the entire citizen body is to enjoy a say in the laws by which it will be governed.

Renaissance Italian Republicanism

Scholars often view the Renaissance, especially in Italy, as a decisive period in the development of republican thought. Many important authors of the Renaissance glorified civic-minded virtuethe ethos of sacrifice for the sake of one's fellow citizens and cityshared by members of a community (the so-called civic humanism identified most influentially by Hans Baron). While a simple equation of Renaissance thought with the revival of classical republicanism has come under serious and deserved challenge, some of the greatest humanists of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries embraced citizenship as the fullest expression of a virtuous human life, taking Cicero as their exemplar. Consequently, republican discourse became one of the primary forms of political expression during the period.

The tension within classical republicanism between discursive and rationalistic conceptions of governance thus also reemerged among Renaissance thinkers, perhaps most strikingly in the works of Niccolò Machiavelli (14691527). One of the central themes of Machiavelli's famed treatise on republican government, the Discourses on the Ten Books of Titus Livy (1517) is the defense of the view that the popular elements within the community form the best safeguard of civic liberty as well as the most reliable source of decision making about the public good. In particular, Machiavelli contrasts the constancy and trustworthiness of the people, who are often accused of fickleness and ineptitude, with the improbity of the nobility, who are commonly regarded to be the "natural" leaders of a republic. What permitted Rome to avoid public corruption and to extend its empire for so many centuries, Machiavelli believes, was precisely the fact that ordinary citizens demanded and were accorded such a large hand in public determinations. The people thus thwarted the use by patricians of public power to pursue private interests. The apparent "tumults" between the popular and elite segments of the Roman population were in fact the key to Rome's success. Machiavelli's praise for the role of the people in securing the republic is supported by his confidence in the generally illuminating effects of public speech upon the citizen body. Near the beginning of the first Discourse, he notes that some may object to the extensive freedom enjoyed by the Roman people to assemble, to protest, and to veto laws and policies. But he replies by referring to Cicero's view that "the people, although they may be ignorant, can grasp the truth, and yield easily when told what is true by a trustworthy man"; that is, the people are competent to respond to and support the words of the gifted orator when he speaks truly about the public welfare.

Machiavelli returns to this theme in a chapter of the Discourses intended to demonstrate the superiority of popular over princely government. He argues that the people are well ordered, and hence "prudent, stable and grateful," so long as room is made for public speech and deliberation within the community. Citing the formula vox populi, vox dei, Machiavelli insists that the people are competent to discern the best course of action when orators lay out competing plans, and in fact they are better qualified to make decisions, in Machiavelli's view, than are princes. The republic governed by words and persuasionin sum, ruled by public speechis almost sure to realize the common good of its citizens; and even should it err, recourse is always open to further discourse. Nonrepublican regimes, because they exclude or limit discursive practices, ultimately rest on coercive domination and can only be corrected by violent means.

English Republicanism

According to many scholars, James Harrington (16111677) walks directly in Machiavelli's footsteps, circulating classical republicanism beyond the confines of Italian (especially, Florentine) writers, into the English tradition, and eventually across the Atlantic. Yet Harrington's The Commonwealth of Oceana (1656) seems to have detoured around some of the more populist elements of Machiavelli's classical republicanism. In preferring the government of Venice to that of Rome, and to a lesser extent, Sparta to Athens, he manifests overt hostility to public speech. Rome and Athens, he asserts, were both ruined by the "storms" arising from the "debate of the people." Far preferable is Venice, which, like its alleged Lacedaemonian exemplar, Sparta, never sanctions public debate. Indeed, in his own ideal commonwealth of Oceana, popular discussion of political affairs is punishable by no less a penalty than death. Harrington's abhorrence of public speech is tied to the rationalistic side of classical republicanism: namely, that public decision making must be conducted in accordance with a strict principle of right reason, accessible only to the wise few, who therefore take it upon themselves to serve as guardians of the people for the sake of the common benefit.

Harrington expressly distinguishes three concepts of reasonas self-interest, as group interest, and as the interest of the wholeand contends that only the latter should be taken into consideration in the formation of laws and public policies. The problem is how the "common right" may safely be discovered and converted into the law of the land. In Harrington's view, this cannot be achieved by the people as a whole, since he observes that nature itself generates clear differences between human beings and, in particular, produces a "natural aristocracy" of the wise who are clearly more adept in their faculties of understanding. Harrington thinks that the foolish or ignorant will recognize that it is desirable to be led by the "excellent parts" in whom special "virtue or authority" resides.

Harrington institutionalizes this distinction between the wise few and the foolish multitude in his construction of the constitution of Oceana. The natural leaders form the body of the senate, whereas the foolish are represented in a popular assembly (or "prerogative tribe") composed of 1,050 delegates. The functions of these two groups differ markedly. The senate is charged with debating public affairs and with decreeing laws and policies; within its halls, discussion of proposals is to be open and unrestricted, and its members are deemed free to express disparate and conflicting opinions, until some conclusion is achieved. That this will not lead to disorder, Harrington believes, stems from the fact that the procedures of debate will occur strictly in accordance with the precepts of reason. The prerogative tribe, by contrast, performs a completely passive role: strictly enjoined from debating the senate's decrees, its members instead either affirm or reject the proposals presented to them. This has the effect of ensuring that the senators do not attempt to employ their authority to pass measures that reflect either private or group interest. The popular assembly thus has the primary purpose of checking potential abuses of power. But Harrington ascribes to the prerogative tribe no positive or active functions; it cannot air grievances, suggest issues or topics for legislation, make any sorts of changes in proposals, nor even question the wisdom of the senatorial decrees. Starting with the principle that reason is a special competence of the few, Harrington's republicanism excludes popular speech from the well-ordered constitution.

Modern Republicanism

The modern period witnessed a number of important practical experiments in the implementation of republican ideas, including the Netherlands, France, and the United States. One of the important facets of these experiments was the introduction of novel features into the classical tradition in recognition of the de facto replacement of the city by the territorial state as the central unit of public life. Modern republicans recognized that the process of political debate could not realistically be modeled on a direct interaction between speakers and an audience. Hence, political representation rather than direct governance by the people emerged as a hallmark of republican regimes, even as the principle of popular sovereignty was retained and reinforced. Representation permitted discussion and dispute in an assembly setting that presumably mimicked the views and disagreements that were held by members of society at large. Moreover, republicans such as James Madison (17511836) in the United States sought ways to mitigate the consequence of the factionalism that Machiavelli had regarded to be the hallmark of a healthy republic by institutionalizing mixed government by means of a constitutionally designated system of checks and balances. Thus, no faction could entirely impose its will on its opponents.

Another modification to traditional republican conceptions came with the challenge posed by the commercialization of Atlantic economic relations and social values. For classical republicans, the private accumulation of liquid wealth had been widely viewed as incompatible with civic virtue, but early modern authors began to reevaluate this doctrine. Some thinkers contended that citizens should proudly acknowledge industriousness and self-acquired possessions as the foundation of morality and the greatness of their cities. The Dutch-born Bernard Mandeville (16701733) proposed in his Fable of the Bees (1714) the famous principle that private vices yield public goods, which is to say that the pursuit of personal gain, and indeed the desire for comfort and luxury, leads directly to the enrichment of society as a whole and the consequent benefit of all its members. Republics should thus orient their political institutions in order to promote commercial enterprise.

With the rise of liberalism, capitalism, and democracy during the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, republican ideas entered a period of decline. Only in very recent times has this fortune been reversed. On the one hand, historical scholars such as Gordon S. Wood and John Pocock have offered reminders of how great was the debt of modern political institutions to the language and doctrines of republicanism. On the other hand, political philosophers critical of the excesses of liberalism have turned to the communitarian orientation of classical republicanism for inspiration. Among the best known of these "new republicans" are Hannah Arendt (19061975), Alasdair MacIntyre (b. 1929), Michael Sandel (b. 1953), and Philip Pettit (b. 1945). It seems clear that in the early twenty-first century the republican tradition is enjoying a considerable revival that suggests its continuing vitality and the relevance of its fundamental tenets to modern life.

See also Capitalism ; Constitutionalism ; Democracy ; Liberalism .

bibliography

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Cicero, Marcus Tullius. De inventione, edited by H. M. Hubbell. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1949.

. De officiis, edited by Walter Miller. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1913.

. De oratore. Edited by E. W. Sutton and H. Rackham. 2 vols. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1942.

. De re publica and De legibus. Edited by C. W. Keyes. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1928.

Harrington, James. The Political Works of James Harrington, edited by J. G. A. Pocock. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1977.

Machiavelli, Niccolò. The Chief Works and Others. Translated by Allan Gilbert. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1965.

Marsiglio of Padua. The Defender of Peace. Translated by Alan Gewirth. New York: Columbia University Press, 1956.

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Baron, Hans. The Crisis of the Early Italian Renaissance. 2 vols. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1955.

. In Search of Florentine Civic Humanism. 2 vols. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1988.

Blythe, James M. Ideal Government and the Mixed Constitution in the Middle Ages. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1992.

Fink, Zera S. The Classical Republicans: An Essay on the Recovery of a Pattern of Thought in Seventeenth-Century England. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1962.

Hankins, James, ed. Renaissance Civic Humanism. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

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Rahe, Paul A. Republics Ancient and Modern: Classical Republicanism and the American Revolution. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992.

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van Gelderen, Martin, and Quentin Skinner, eds. Republicanism: A Shared European Heritage. 2 vols. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Viroli, Maurizio. Machiavelli. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

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Cary J. Nederman

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Republic

Republic

BIBLIOGRAPHY

The origin of the term republic lies in the Latin phrase res publica, or public thing. The term implies the development of the public, distinct from the private, in both degree and manner. First, a republic must be developed socially and economically to a degree that sets it apart from a mere collection of private households. Second, a republic must be developed politically in a manner that distinguishes its rule from despotism, wherein the ruler regards all land and people as his or her private property. Over time, as noted in Paul Rahes definitive work, Republics Ancient and Modern, republics have taken on different characteristics. Some have been authoritarian, using the power of the regime to establish a fixed way of life for all citizens, while others have been liberal, allowing citizens to pursue happiness as each individual defines it. Some republics have been highly democratic, others less so. Consequently, republics have featured different kinds of institutions, from presidential to parliamentary systems and constitutional monarchies. This diversity has developed largely in response to the changing relationship between public and private.

Early republics, such as the Greek polis, or city-state, tended to be small and homogeneous. Aristotle argued that the polis came into existence for the sake of security, but once formed it assumed the higher purpose of providing a venue for self-perfection or virtue. In order to promote virtue, the classical republic assigned not only politics, but also religion, the arts, and the economy, to the public sphere. Politics were generally democratic, but they were also inegalitarian and illiberal. The regime expected citizens to conform to the public understanding of the best way of life, and it rewarded those who did with rule over those who did not. The nineteenth-century historian Fustel de Coulanges notes that public control of the economy was not intended to equalize wealth so much as it was used to make sure people found a vocation and engaged in production and exchange in a manner consistent with the moral vision of the regime. In sum, the ancient republics left little other than matters exclusive to the household to the private sphere. Yet the ancient republic is also the birthplace of philosophya pursuit that entails questioning public ideas. This was considered hostile to the regime, so ancient republics tended to protect themselves by exiling or, in the case of Socrates, executing those who questioned the citys beliefs.

Changing public ideas about the household, economy, and religion brought to light a new conception of the republic. The English philosopher John Locke argued that people had a natural right to appropriate the goods of the earth to satisfy their personal self-interest. This required an economy in which people took up a vocation and engaged in the production and exchange of goods based on personal appetites and desires. At the same time, the idea of religious toleration left decisions about faith to individuals, prompting the secularization of the modern republic. With greater emphasis on the household, there was less justification for the use of law to establish a common way of life. This did not, however, constitute an unqualified preference for the private, or any disregard for the public. Rather, the expanded private sphere was intended to serve a public purpose by mediating and channeling behavior driven by self-interest to raise the standard of living for all.

Thus, the modern republic is, by definition, liberal in character, existing not for virtue but for security. Consequently, modern republics feature institutional safeguards to prevent the abuse of power, particularly the separation of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, as recommended by the French philosopher Montesquieu. Most scholars, including Thomas Pangle, credit Montesquieu and Locke with having a considerable influence on the founding of the United States. Others, however, such as J. G. A. Pocock, dispute the degree of this influence.

James Madison took a special interest in the development of republics, noting the problem of instability that had plagued both classical and modern regimes. In Federalist No. 10, Madison argued that instability was the result of factions, or organized groups motivated by a common goal adverse to the rights of others. Factions arose because republics permitted citizens to formulate individual opinions, gave them the freedom to associate, and offered groups the ability to influence policy to reflect their narrow interests. Madisons solution was the extensive commercial republic, which was a break with earlier thinkers who believed republics had to be small and homogeneous.

Madison used the idea of representation to distinguish the republic from a pure democracy. A representative government, he argued, could take in greater territory and population. People would put the land to use differently, and the different types and amounts of property would lead to diverse opinions. This would result in a multiplicity of factions, such that no single interest could dominate political decisionsa condition Robert Dahl famously termed pluralism. However, James W. Ceaser, among others, has disputed the fidelity of Dahls logic to Madisons argument. Madisons strategy intended the political arena to be a public place where people of differing passions and interests would engage one another, allowing the experience to refine and enlarge their views. This would produce decisions that did not benefit some at the expense of others, but that were conducive to a common good. Ultimately, Madisons plan would have a centralizing effect on public opinion, but it would still offer freedom for those who desired to pursue more unconventional ideas.

Pressure from those exercising the right to explore the margins continues to redefine the center. This has made the modern republic the site of important rights movements, particularly the womens liberation movement and the civil rights movement. This has intensified as globalization has prompted yet another reconsideration of the place of the market, religion, and the household. Economically, some want the market to be more purely private, seeking to reduce regulatory controls on land use, production, and exchange. Others advocate greater public control over the marketplace in the name of safety, fairness, and increased public assistance to the poor. At the same time, some desire a greater separation between religion and the public sphere, while others would prefer to see an increased public role for religion, allowing church groups to replace government agencies in the provision of social services. Finally, there is a debate over the nature of the household itself. Many republics, for example, are considering public recognition of same-sex marriages. Some see these changes as the next logical step in the evolution of the republic. Others consider them a radical departure and a threat to the very existence of the republic. Thus, the persistent redefinition of the relationship between public and private, especially with regard to the economy, religion, and the household, continues to shape the nature of the republic.

SEE ALSO City-State; Democracy; Federalism; Locke, John; Monarchy, Constitutional; Pluralism; Republicanism; State, The

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Aristotle. 1986. The Politics. Trans. Carnes Lord. New York: Prometheus Books.

Ceaser, James W. 1986. In Defense of Republican Constitutionalism: A Reply to Dahl. In The Moral Foundations of the American Republic, 3rd ed., ed. Robert H. Horwitz et al., 253-281. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia.

Dahl, Robert A. 1956. A Preface to Democratic Theory. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Fustel de Coulanges, Numa Denis. 1864. The Ancient City: A Study on the Religion, Laws, and Institutions of Greece and Rome. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980.

Locke, John. 1689. Two Treatises of Government. Ed. Peter Laslett. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

Madison, James. 1788. The Federalist Papers. Ed. Charles R. Kesler. New York: Signet Classics, 2003.

Montesquieu, Charles de Secondat, Baron de. 1748. The Spirit of the Laws. Trans. and ed. Anne Cohler, Basia Miller, and Harold Stone. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

Pangle, Thomas L. 1988. The Spirit of Modern Republicanism: The Moral Vision of the American Founders and the Philosophy of Locke. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Pocock, J. G. A. 1975. The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Rahe, Paul A. 1992. Republics Ancient and Modern: Classical Republicanism and the American Revolution. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

B. Jeffrey Reno

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"Republic." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Republic

REPUBLIC

That form of government in which the administration of affairs is open to all the citizens. A political unit or "state," independent of its form of government.

The word republic, derived from the Latin res publica, or "public thing," refers to a form of government where the citizens conduct their affairs for their own benefit rather than for the benefit of a ruler. Historically republics have not always been democratic in character, however. For example, the ancient Republic of Venice was ruled by an aristocratic elite.

In the U.S. historical tradition, the belief in republicanism shaped the U.S. Revolution and Constitution. Before the revolution, leaders developed many political theories to justify independence from Great Britain. thomas paine, in his book Common Sense (1776), called for a representative government for the colonies and for a written constitution. Paine rejected the legitimacy of the monarchy to have a part in government. This attack on the king was echoed the following year in the Declaration of Independence, where thomas jefferson proposed that colonists reject the monarchy and become republican citizens.

Framers of the U.S. Constitution intended to create a republican government. Article IV, Section 4, states "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government…." Though the language was vague, the authors of the Constitution clearly intended to prevent the rise to power of either a monarchy or a hereditary aristocracy. Article I, Section 9, states, "No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States," and most state constitutions have similar provisions.

The guarantee of republican government was designed to provide a national remedy for domestic insurrection threatening the state governments and to prevent the rise of a monarchy, about which there was some talk at the time.

james madison, the author of many of the essays included in The Federalist Papers (1787–88), put forward a sophisticated concept of republican government. He explained in Number 10 that a republic must be contrasted with a democracy. In the eighteenth century the term "democracy" meant what is now called a pure or direct democracy, wherein legislation is made by a primary assembly of citizens, as existed in several rural Swiss cantons and in New England towns. In a pure democracy, Madison argued, there is no check on the majority to protect the weaker party or individuals and therefore such democracies "have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention," where rights of personal security and property are always in jeopardy.

By a republic, Madison meant a system in which representatives are chosen by the citizens to exercise the powers of government. In Number 39 of The Federalist Papers, he returned to this theme, saying that a republic "is a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people; and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure, for a limited period, or during good behavior." Generally, such leaders as Madison and john adams believed that republicanism rests on the foundation of a balanced constitution, involving a separation of powers and checks and balances.

The republican form of government has remained a constant in U.S. politics. State constitutions follow the federal constitution in dividing powers among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Likewise, states have adopted the various checks and balances that exist between the three branches, including the executive veto power and judicial review.

The U.S. Supreme Court has stayed out of controversies that involve whether the government of a state is republican in character. For example, in Pacific States Telephone and Telegraph Co. v. Oregon, 223 U.S. 118, 32 S. Ct. 224, 56 L. Ed. 377 (1912), the Court declined to rule whether state legislation by initiative and referendum (legislation approved directly by the people through the ballot) was inconsistent with republicanism. The Court refused to rule because it considered this issue a political question outside its jurisdiction. It is now well established that it is the province of Congress and the president, not the courts, to decide whether the government of a state is republican in character.

cross-references

Constitution of the United States; Federalist Papers; Locke, John.

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"Republic." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Republic

REPUBLIC

REPUBLIC. The word republic derives from the Latin res publica; res means "thing" or "affair," and publica means "public," as opposed to "private." The word thus denotes government in which politics is a public affair and not the personal prerogative of a single ruler. There have been aristocratic republics and oligarchic republics, but, as applied to the United States government, this term usually connotes a democratic republic, one in which elected representatives carry out the functions of government. This conception of the terms derives both from classical philosophy and eighteenth-century liberal thought. In the context of the debate over the Constitution of the United States in 1788, federalists refined the concept further so that the term republic referred to a particular kind of democracy.

James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay articulated this conception of a republic in their 1788 essays that were later compiled as The Federalist Papers. These essays, intended to support the ratification of the federal Constitution in New York, distinguished a republic from a pure democracy, describing the latter as "a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person." In the context of The Federalist Papers, a republic differed from a pure democracy only in that it was "a government in which the scheme of representation takes place." According to this interpretation, a republic was a representative democracy. As Madison pointed out, the representative principle militates against the irresponsible exercise of majority power, for it makes a large republic possible, and it is difficult in a large republic for any faction to become a majority. According to these authors, a large republic would foster the formation of many factions, and this sheer multiplicity of interests in turn would create shifting coalitions, which would hinder the formation of an oppressive or irresponsible majority. Furthermore, because of the checks and balances and separation of powers between different branches and levels of government, any upstart tyrannical faction would encounter many legal and institutional roadblocks.

Europeans had established partly or wholly representative governments before the American Revolution, but none was both wholly representative and wholly democratic. The republic of the United States achieved that novel combination. A danger remained, however, according to Alexis de Tocqueville, in its representative institutions: if representatives are little better than their constituents, he argued, the hoped for improvement in the government of democracy might come to nothing.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bailyn, Bernard. The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1992.

Banning, Lance. The Sacred Fire of Liberty: James Madison and the Founding of the Federal Republic. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1995.

Hamilton, Alexander, John Jay, and James Madison. The Federalist Papers. ed. Gary Wills. New York: Bantam Books, 1981.

Morton J.Frisch/s. b.

See alsoAntifederalists ; Citizenship ; Constitution of the United States ; Federalist Papers ; Liberalism ; Political Theory ; Republicanism .

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republic

republic [Lat. res publica,=public affair], today understood to be a sovereign state ruled by representatives of a widely inclusive electorate. The term republic formerly denoted a form of government that was both free from hereditary or monarchical rule and had popular control of the state and a conception of public welfare. It is in this sense that we speak of the ancient Roman republic. Today, in addition to the above characteristics, a republic is a state in which all segments of society are enfranchised and in which the state's power is constitutionally limited. Traditionally a republic is distinguished from a true democracy in that the republic operates through a representative assembly chosen by the citizenry, while in a democracy the populace participates directly in governmental affairs. In actual practice, however, most modern representative governments are closer to a republic than a democracy. The United States is an example of a federal republic, in which the powers of the central government are limited and the component parts of the nation, the states, exercise some measure of home rule. France is an example of a centralized republic, in which the component parts have more limited powers. The USSR, though in theory a grouping of federated republics and autonomous regions, was in fact a centralized republic until its breakup in 1991.

See F. Hermens, The Representative Republic (1958) and Introduction to Modern Politics (1959).

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republic

republic a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch. The Republic is the English title of Plato' most famous work.
Republic Day the day on which the foundation of a republic is commemorated, in particular (in India) 26 January.

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republic

re·pub·lic / riˈpəblik/ • n. a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch. ∎ archaic, fig. a community or group with a certain equality between its members.

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republic

republic †state, common weal; state in which the supreme power resides in the people. XVII. — F. république — L. rēspublica, f. rēs affair, thing + fem. of publicus PUBLIC.
Hence republican †pert. to the commonwealth; pert. to (sb. advocate of) a republic XVII; whence republicanism XVII.

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republic

republic State in which sovereignty is vested in the people or their elected or nominated representatives. A republic may also be understood to be a state in which all segments of society are enfranchised and the power of the state is limited.

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